World’s first ship-to-ship LNG transfer

News Excerpt:

GAIL, India's top gas firm, has achieved the world's first ship-to-ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) transfer as part of its innovative approach to reduce shipping costs and cut emissions.

Brief about the news

  • The innovative approach involves mid-way transfer of LNG between GAIL's vessel and Qatar Gas vessel, saving 7,000 tonnes of CO2 and shortening the voyage from 54 to 27 days.
  • This groundbreaking transfer occurred between a conventional LNG vessel and a Q-Flex LNG Vessel, marking a significant milestone in the industry.
  • The optimized gain for GAIL in this charter exceeds $1 million, creating a win-win situation for both GAIL and Qatar Gas.
  • The success of this approach has the potential for scaling up in the LNG shipping industry, projecting substantial emission savings and increased vessel utilization.

Reasons for ship-to-ship cargo transfer

  • Facilitating vessel entry into a harbor or aiding in re-floating by transferring cargo to lighten the ship.
  • Conducting bunkering operations to refuel or resupply a vessel.
  • Saving time in a tight schedule by expediting cargo transfer between ships.
  • Executing commercial transactions at sea, wherein cargo ownership changes hands while the carrying vessel is in transit.
  • Emergency lightering of a vessel following incidents like grounding, ensuring prompt response and resolution.
  • Potentially engaging in ship-to-ship transfers for purposes that may include evading sanctions.

Types of LNG Transfer 

Ship-to-ship Method

  • Ship-to-ship LNG transfer operations include oceangoing vessels underway or harbor operations where a moored ship is typically docked at a pier.
  • It can involve either a cargo transfer or a fueling operation for an LNG-propelled ship.
  • Either way, the transfer operations demand strict safety standards and flawless execution considering the factors involved with two ships at sea.

Shore-to-ship Method

  • Shore-to-ship operations involve LNG being transferred to a ship from an onshore storage terminal or depot. Shore-to-ship operations are performed in sensitive envi­ronments where safety concerns are critical.

Truck-to-ship Method

  • Truck-to-ship transfer operations occur where ships and ferries are fueled by tank trucks.
  • The fueling is either a direct transfer from a tank truck to the ship or a system where several tank trucks connect to a fueling skid which then delivers the fuel to the ship.
  • As these operations involve a number of tank trucks moving in and out of position to unload fuel for passenger ships and ferries, safety is of utmost concern.


The success of this innovative approach has the potential to be scaled up in the LNG shipping industry, with projections indicating substantial emission savings and increased vessel utilization if adopted for a minimum of two cargoes per month.

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